The State of Low- and Middle-Income Housing in Austin, Denver, and Miami: Strategies to Preserve Affordability and Opportunities for the Future

This project assesses housing affordability for low- to middle-income (LMI) households to better understand LMI housing needs in rapidly changing cities (Miami, Denver, and Austin). The studies focus on those households that do not typically qualify for federal housing subsidies, or those with income ranging from 50 to 120 percent of the area median income (AMI). Within each city, we center on neighborhoods—to reflect how communities, developers, and planners think about their cities—in order to identify which areas offer the most opportunity for LMI housing preservation and development. The reports include a data-rich analysis of the demographic, economic, and housing contexts across neighborhoods, as well as stakeholder findings, in order to understand how areas have changed, the overarching policy context, and the opportunities for creating and preserving LMI housing affordability now and in the future:

Miami and the State of Low- and Middle-Income Housing

Miami and the State of Low- and Middle-Income Housing

Diana Elliott, Tanaya Srini, Shiva Kooragayala and Carl Hedman

Miami and Miami-Dade County have experienced rapid population growth and development in recent years, particularly in the city’s booming downtown. The influx of new residents and development of extensive market-rate and high-end units have led to rising housing costs for many households, particularly for low- and middle-income (LMI) households who make too much for subsidies and too little to pay market prices. Through a data-rich analysis of population and housing market changes in the last 15 years, we identify sharp contrasts between the flourishing Downtown, Wynwood, and Edgewater neighborhoods and those that are in need of more targeted intervention, like Allapattah, Liberty City, and Overtown.  Finally, informed by our meetings with stakeholders, we identify both short-term policy interventions like easing parking requirements and expediting permitting processes, and longer-term solutions—including coalition-building for land banking and land trust opportunities, better community engagement, and building the capacity of community-based organizations and local entrepreneurs—that could make a difference for LMI housing affordability in Miami and Miami-Dade County. 

Denver and the State of Low- and Middle-Income Housing

Denver and the State of Low- and Middle-Income Housing

Diana Elliott, Tanaya Srini, Carl Hedman, Shiva Kooragayala and Cary Lou

Denver is experiencing rapid population growth and economic success, which has led to rising housing costs that make the city cost-prohibitive to longtime residents and newcomers alike. This is especially the case for low- and middle-income (LMI) households who make too much for subsidies and too little to pay market prices. Through a data-rich analysis of population and housing market changes in the last 15 years, we identify sharp contrasts between the flourishing neighborhoods of Lower Downtown and those that are in need of more targeted intervention, like Globeville, Elyria, and Swansea. Creative approaches to accessory dwelling units and social impact investing for affordable housing, as well as greater use of community land trusts to maintain affordability, could gain traction in the near term. In the long term, conversations about affordable housing should focus on a regional vision, one that acknowledges that this is a regional challenge and one that intersects with issues of social equity. Denver, an already innovative city in approaching affordable housing, will need to think creatively about LMI affordability as it continues to experience growth and economic success.

Austin and the State of Low- and Middle-Income Housing

Austin and the State of Low- and Middle-Income Housing

Carl Hedman, Diana Elliott, Tanaya Srini and Shiva Kooragayala and

Austin’s rapid population influx, owing in large part to its culture and technology-based economic development strategy, has brought new and more affluent residents to the area in recent years. This has contributed to a housing affordability problem in the city, especially for low- and middle-income (LMI) households, who make too much for subsidies and too little to pay market prices. Through a data-rich analysis of population and housing market changes in the last 15 years, we identify targeted interventions for neighborhoods facing different challenges. For example, in areas of East Austin that are rapidly changing and becoming less affordable, reevaluating the county’s homestead exemptions to ease property tax burdens, exploring innovative community land trust models, and continuing to build evidence for Homestead Preservation Districts could help LMI residents. Austin is thinking in innovative ways about preserving and creating LMI affordability. By such measures now and in the future, the city can remain one where newcomers continue to be drawn and longtime residents continue to thrive.

 

The Urban Institute is collaborating with JPMorgan Chase over five years to inform and assess JPMorgan Chase’s philanthropic investments in key initiatives. One of key initiatives is the Partnerships for Raising Opportunity in Neighborhoods (PRO Neighborhoods), which is a five-year, $125 million effort to invest in solutions to revitalize neighborhoods by growing small businesses, creating health and social service facilities, improving access to affordable housing, and collecting better data to study changing neighborhood demographics. The goals of the collaboration include using data and evidence to inform JPMorgan Chase’s philanthropic investments, assessing whether its programs are achieving desired outcomes, and informing the larger fields of policy, philanthropy, and practice. This report is one of a series of three—conducted in Miami, Denver, and Austin—that draw upon rich data analyses of demographic, economic, and housing trends, as well as stakeholder conversations, to identify the policy and programmatic potential for preserving and creating affordable housing for LMI households in these cities.